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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the start of the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate in Denver October 3, 2012. Mr. Romney’s performance towered that of Mr. Obama, which could make the race a lot closer than expected after Mr. Romney’s political gaffe.JASON REED/Reuters

The U.S. presidential race is once again a real contest after Republican nominee Mitt Romney's break out performance in his first debate with President Barack Obama.

In the first three-day Gallup tracking poll completed since last Wednesday's debate, the candidates are tied with each claiming the support of 47 per cent of registered voters.

The Gallup survey released Monday indicates that Mr. Romney revived his campaign with the debate. In the last three-day tracking poll prior to encounter, Mr. Obama held a five percentage point lead over the GOP nominee, 50 per cent to 45 per cent.

Meanwhile, a Politico-George Washington University tracking poll released Monday found a growing "enthusiasm gap" among Mr. Obama's supporters. While 73 per cent of Obama backers said they were "extremely likely" to vote, that compares to 86 per cent of Mr. Romney's supporters.

Indeed, enthusiasm among African Americans, Latinos and voters under 30 – groups that support Mr. Obama in large numbers – was markedly lower than among white voters overall. Mr. Romney had a 15 percentage point lead among white voters, according to the Politico poll, most of which was conducted before Wednesday's debate.

Among registered voters who watched the debate, fully 72 per cent told Gallup that Mr. Romney did a better job. Only 20 per cent picked Mr. Obama as the debate's winner.

The 52 percentage point gap between each candidate's performance is the biggest Gallup has ever recorded. The previous record was held by Bill Clinton, who won the 1992 town hall debate against George H.W. Bush by 42 percentage points.

On the weekend, Mr. Obama's top aides promised that the President would turn the tables on Mr. Romney in their next debates, a town hall-style encounter on Oct. 16 and a debate on foreign policy on Oct. 22.

On Sunday, Mr. Obama's chief campaign strategist called Mr. Romney's responses last week "dishonest."

"The president showed up with the intent of answering questions and having a discussion, an honest discussion of where we will go as a country, and Romney showed up to deliver a performance, and he delivered a very good performance," David Axelrod told Face the Nation on CBS. "It was completely un-rooted in fact, it was completely un-rooted in the positions he's taken before and he spent 90 minutes trying to undo two years of campaigning on that stage, but he did it very well."

The new Gallup numbers were released as Mr. Romney prepared to deliver a major foreign policy speech on Monday. And they raised the stakes for Vice-president Joe Biden, who is set to take on Mr. Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, in a debate on Thursday night.